These testimonies were given to ISM Gaza Strip volunteers on April 9th 2009
Izhaq Mohammed Zayed, 46
On Monday 6th April 2009, Izhaq Zayed was with his son, Rassim, in a hassaka (small fishing boat) off the coast of Beit Lahia, northern
"If something happens to my father you are responsible. Either let me take him to the hospital or you take him."
The Israelis ordered them to go west, further out to sea. When they arrived at a yellow boundary marker, they were ordered to tie their hassaka to it. Then they noticed another three hassakas that had also been forced to come to the yellow buoy. The Israelis in the zodiac began to interrogate the fishermen about their names and communicate by radio to the Israeli gunboat that was nearby. They ordered the fishermen to stand up and take their clothes off. Izhaq was lying on the hassaka, still sick. He refused to stand, saying that he couldn't. The Israelis threatened to shoot him. They asked him to take off his jacket and again he refused saying that he was feeling cold. Again they threatened to shoot at him. Then they asked all the fishermen (apart from two minors) to jump in the water and swim to the larger naval vessel. The two boys stayed in the hassaka. Then they threw Izhaq a tire and he grabbed it and they pulled him. However he fell in the water. The soldiers grabbed him violently (he showed his bruises)
On arrival at
The interrogators accused him that he had been found in a 'restricted' zone and that the soldiers who arrested him had claimed he was in Dugeet (northern part of
Then the interrogators asked about his family's financial situation:
- What do your daughters' husbands do for a living?
- They are all fishermen.
- How much do you make from fishing?
- Did you work in
- How much money you were earning?
- What can you do with 20
- Wasn't working in
- Now the crossing is closed.
- Work with us and we will pay you.
- Why not?
- Because I don't want to.
- Do the Palestinian police come to the beach?
- When you lose your nets do you go to the Palestinian navy station?
- Because you bombed their offices.
- Where do you go to?
- To Al Mina (the port of
- Do you go to *** **** from the syndicate?
- Yes. What about my hassaka?
- It will stay here.
- I have nets that cost $1,000. Tomorrow the weather will be windy and I will lose them.
- How old is your son, Rassim?
- Is he engaged?
- Do you want him to get married?
- Yes, but I can't afford his wedding.
- Help us and we will enable you to get him married quickly.
- What does that mean?
- We will call you on your mobile…
- To tell you when we are going to give you your hassaka.
- Do I know you to talk to you on the phone?
- You talk to your boss in
- Because you abducted me and you prevent me from providing food for my family. You took me when I was only
Then they brought about 50 copies of a sketch that was supposed to show the 'permitted' and 'restricted' areas (see photo). The sketch is hand made and has no dimensions. The Israeli navy no longer recognizes the Oslo Agreement which allows Palestinian fishermen to fish as far out as 20 nautical miles from the Gazan coast, yet at the same time demands the fishermen to respect 'area K' which is in Palestinian territorial waters, adjacent to Israeli waters but according to Oslo is a non-fishing area. Also, the sketch doesn't show any dimensions to indicate how far from the coast the Palestinian fishermen are 'allowed' to fish. The Israelis asked the abducted fishermen to distribute these papers amongst their colleagues.
They also brought a map showing
At 10.00pm they were put on a bus to be taken to the Erez crossing. Later, after their blindfolds were removed at the crossing, they saw they were being guarded by seven soldiers. At Erez, the border soldiers asked the naval soldiers why these people had been arrested. They were told that the Palestinian fishermen were fishing in a restricted area. Izhaq told the officer that this was a lie and that they had been fishing in a permitted area.
The Israelis released them and warned them that they had five minutes to reach the Palestinian side of the crossing. The fishermen asked the Israelis to give them some money to take a taxi home because they were barefoot. The Israelis refused and told them that if they don't go straight ahead to the other side of the crossing they would shoot them.
Ahmed Assad Hamad Sultan, 15
Ahmed was fishing with his brother Abed, 21, about 100-
There they were ordered to take their clothes off. All the fishermen swam to the larger gunboat but two youths remained in two different hassakas. The Israelis in the zodiac told them to jump in the water. The boys pleaded, explaining that they couldn't swim. Then they threw them a tire and pulled them to the zodiac, where they were handcuffed very tightly and blindfolded. Although they were naked and cold, they were covered with a wet blanket which was very heavy and tight on their chests, causing them difficulty to breathe. They took the two boys to
Ahmed was hit in the back when he asked for food. None of the fishermen were given anything to eat during their detention, only water.
Riffat Zayed Zayed, 20
Riffat was out in a hassaka, assisted by his brother Neshat, 12, who suffers from a chronic disease. While they were collecting their nets, an Israeli naval zodiac appeared and soldiers ordered them head west. At first they ignored this demand. The Israelis began to shoot but they ignored them again. The Israelis threatened to shoot them. Riffat was forced to cut their nets in order to leave the area.
When they arrived at the mark, they tied the hassakas. They took their clothes off and stayed in the cold for 20 minutes. Then they were ordered to jump in the cold water and swim to the larger gunboat. When they arrived, the soldiers seized them then blindfolded and handcuffed them. They pushed Riffat's head down and covered him with a blanket.
Only when they arrived in
He was asked how much he earns from the sea, to which he replied 15-20
They blindfolded and handcuffed him again. When he said that he wanted to go home, the soldiers kicked the chair he was in which threw him about two meters across the room. The fishermen could smell the soldiers preparing coffee in front of them but they weren't given any, only water. At 5.30 Riffat tried to uncover his eyes to see the time so a soldier hit him. He was forced onto the ground and kept there. On the bus to Erez a similar incident occurred.
Alaa Mohammed Joma Sultan, 15
Alaa also said that the soldiers hit him in the back. Alaa has been injured in the past when he fell whilst trying to escape from Israeli gunfire on the shore.
Some of the fishermen have been abducted in the past. However they say that it was the first time that the Israelis also took children.
The Israelis didn't say if and when they will return the four hassakas. As for the six hassakas stolen in March, three of the fishermen have been phoned in connection with their possible return.
|The correct names and age of the abducted fishermen are:
Ishaq Mohammed Zayed, 46
|Rasem Ishaq Zayed, 22|
|Abdel Hafiz Assad Hamad Sultan, 21|
|Ahmed Assad Hamad Sultan, 15|
|Nashaat Zayed Zayed, 12|
|Raffat Zayed Zayed, 20|
|Mohammed Mohammed Joma Sultan, 21|
|Alaa Mohammed Joma Sultan, 15|